Hanging up her baking sheets
Mitch Freeman Madison County Record
Jean Millimaki is retiring after working in the Madison Elementary School lunchroom for 30 years.
As her career began to wind to an end, so came a new and unexpected friend.
Second grader Mathew Moxley, son of Theresa and Larry Moxley of Madison, is challenged by hearing and speech difficulties.
He became Millimaki's personal assistant this year by helping Millimaki with simple chores, like moving food between the kitchen and lunchroom serving area, and restocking milk, plates and napkins.
Madison Elementary special education aide Judie Bietry is the one responsible for getting Millimaki and Moxley together. Bietry said that Moxley loves everything mechanical and loves to help.
"It has been a perfect combination," Bietry said.
She described the duo's relationship as being very close, like the crossed fingers she held up. Bietry works with Moxley to improve his speech.
Millimaki said she started work at Madison Elementary in 1968 and has worked there ever since, except for five years. She was the baker, she explained, and baked bread, cakes, and many other goodies from scratch.
That is until baking became a nothing more than a matter of putting frozen food products on baking sheets.
Millimaki is English, hailing from the Isle of Wight, located, in English terms, 164 km (91 miles) southwest of London.
She has all but lost her English accent. Just a hint remains.
Millimaki said that she moved to Michigan from England in 1959 as a result of marriage. She and her husband Wayne moved to Huntsville in 1963 when he found work as a camera repairman, working under contract for the U.S. Air Force.
She said she left her lunchroom job for five years to run her husband's camera repair shop. But, that didn't work out.
"Running the camera repair shop wasn't my cup of tea," Millimaki said.
In regard to her lengthy career at Madison Elementary, Millimaki said she has really loved her job and will miss it.
"I used to knit dish cloths for the teachers," she said. "They will miss that."
Millimaki is one of five lunchroom personnel at Madison Elementary, including the lunchroom manager and cashier.
"We hate to see her go. She's good with the kids and is a good friend," lunchroom manager Linda Rowland said.
This summer, Millimaki said she will go to England to visit her 94-year-old mother, as she does every summer. She hasn't decided what she will do with her time when she retires.